Monday, October 02, 2006

The Sunvalley Mall Story

Here's a reprint from Concord Life magazine, December 1984. It talks about the history of Sunvalley Mall in Concord. I love the aerial shot in the article. You can see how open and pretty the area was before it was leveled and paved over. I tried to zoom in to the restaurant attached to Penney's. If I recall correctly, it was the Copper Penny. They had a huge penny on the side of the building. There also used to be a staircase to the ice rink below.

Does anyone remember the food court on the lower level near Penney's? I guess that was before Taubman changed his mind about them. They removed it at some point.
Most of this mall remained unchanged until a tragic plane crash in December 1985. The mall remodeled to its current state.

Read my guide to Sunvalley Mall

Visit the current Website.

See the aerial view.


Georob said...

Copper Penny was located in a freestanding pad in the SE corner of the parking lot by the freeway offramp. It was demolished in the 80's to accomodate a widening of that offramp. The restaurant by Penneys has gone through a variety of formats over the years and the only one that I can remember is a salad place.

The food court was downstairs on the east side next to Penneys. There is a corridor leading to an outside door that contains restaurants today(or did ten years ago) That door used to lead directly into the food court.

There also used to be a Lyon's restaurant inside Macys. It would have been on the SW corner of the main level and you could enter it from the west parking lot off of Contra Costa Blvd.

In my opinion the plane crash had little effect on the remodeling of Sunvalley. By this time the mall was pushing 20 and was already due for an upgrade to keep up with Stoneridge and to a lesser extent, Hilltop.

And hey, did you happen to notice they mentioned Bayshore Properties as the co-developer? I was beginning to wonder if you thought I made that up.

Georob said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Georob said...

A few more SunValley comments.

SunValley didn't have as much room to work with as other malls did. They had parking on two levels from day one which actually turned out to be a smart thing, as you never had to walk a long distance from your car. The one downside though(as you've said) is that it's a LONG mall.

Some developers might have opted to go far to the edge of town and get as much cheap land as possible, but as you can see by the aerial photo plenty of growth had already occured despite the open spaces. Because of this, SunValley was already quite centrally located and didn't have to wait for everyone to move out there.

But I think the main thing that's kept SunValley so strong is that the demographics have stayed constant all these years. It's always been a solid mix of middle to upper middle class and affluent. This is largely due to the attractiveness of the Diablo Valley. The climate, location, and beauty make it an area that people want to go to despite the crowds.

SunValley's also had little REAL competition, in my opinion. Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek is really the only alternative and they were wise to differentiate themselves a long time ago by going upscale. Any other shopping centers are either too far or don't have the selection that SunValley has. And while the area has plenty of "big box" retailers, they're somewhat scattered and don't pose the threat they would if they were all in one location like Dublin's Hacienda Crossings.

The one thing that I might see changing this is Concord's evolving ethnic mix. But from what I've read, Concord officials are doing all they can to improve things in the lower income areas by working within the community and not just doing a massive redevelopment project.

Flat out, it's just a great area!

BIGMallrat said...

Yep, I did see Bayshore Properties listed as the co-developer. Clearly that was left out of the article written about Southland Mall.
Lyon's, as in the coffee shop? I don't recall that at all. But then again, we never ate there.
For some reason, I pictured the Copper Penney next to Penney's. Maybe it was to first get money at Bank of America.
I do recall they knocked a building down for the new Willow Pass onramp. I guess I don't remember anything more than that! :)

hushpuppy said...

I'd forgotten about Lyon's! Yes, those wonderful googie coffee shops were attached to several Macy's stores (Hillsdale, Sacramento, Sunvalley). What was neat was that Lyon's was always located with entrances both from the outside and from the store. This allowed them to be open in the evenings and on Sundays, when the Macy's stores were closed.

Georob said...

I had forgotten that malls used to be closed on Sundays. In fact, the very first time I saw Sunvalley mall up close was on a Sunday when my parents and I took a drive to Concord shortly after the mall opened in '67, and it was indeed closed.

The first question I have is was this just a custom, or did California have "blue laws", as other parts of the country did and still do when it comes to liquor?
(I visited Dallas, TX in 1983 and malls were still closed on Sunday there)

My second question is about when did this change in California? I seem to recall shopping centers being open on Sundays during the holiday season and closing again when it was over. But if there were laws in place, I would think that couldn't have happened.

And speaking of liquor, who remembers when you couldn't buy alcohol on election day? I distinctly remember being in the Lucky Store at the El Cerrito Plaza and seeing the whole liquor aisle roped off becuase it was election day.

Anonymous said...

My mother worked in the Sunvalley Macy's from the day in opened in 1967, so I used to go there a lot. (I was in high school in those days.) Does anyone remember the S.H. Kress store? It was a five-and-dime (like Woolworth's) on the upper level near Sears. They had an old-fashioned lunch counter (the Whirly-Q Lunchette) that was even dated in 1967, even though it was brand new.

BIGMallrat said...

I don't recall any blue-laws in this state, nor any talk about them. Malls were always open on Sundays in my time, but they closed at 6 on Saturdays until the late Eighties. I also remember the desperate attempt of malls around that time to attract shoppers in a slow economy. The mall was open until 11.

Georob said...

Kress was downstairs by Macys. You're thinking of Walgreens that was upstairs by Sears.

selenawannabe-bassgirl said...

I remember that mall so well! I used to live in Walnut Creek, as a teen, in the 80s. Sunvalley was my hang out. I used to take the bus there all the time. I loved how the mall stayed open later than the malls here in the area where I live now (North Augusta,SC).
I remember that plane crash well! I was 15. I was visiting here (where I live) and was listening to the radio, in the dark, unable to sleep. They mentioned something about it and I sat straight up in bed. All I could think about was them kids! It happened near the spot where Santa sat at. In fact a couple weeks earlier, my little brother had stood in line there and had his photo taken with Santa! When we got back to WC, and I went to the mall, they had big drapes made of plastic hung over the center of the mall, and you had to walk thru Macys to get to the other side of the mall. Macy's had their carpet all torn out and the place looked horrible. It was an eerie feeling when you walked thru.
I loved that mall! Someday I hope to visit the Bay Area again, to relive the happy memories and I will for sure visit that mall! Thanks for the pics. it brought back memories!

selenawannabe-bassgirl said...

I don't remember the mall being closed on Sundays. But then again, I mainly went on Fridays and Saturdays. I remember the malls staying open to like 11 M-F and 10 on Sat. IDK about Sundays. I loved it b/c the dumb malls around here close at 9 M-Sat and 6 on Sundays.
In SC we have that blue law. We used to have ALL stores closing on Sundays. Now they open at 1. Walmart 24 hours stores grocery side stays open on Sun morning, but the domestic side shuts down. They put a rope across where you can't get thru! If you are at W-mart shopping for clothes at 11 PM Sat. nite and you have a clothing item in your buggy after 12 am, I don't think you can't buy it. If I am not mistaken. I might be wrong. But one year we found out at the last min. that my son's Easter suit was too small, and I went to Walmart and they had already shut down that side, and the lady told me that even if I snuck thru and got an outfit, I couldn't buy it. Which sucks. That is why they have diapers in the baby side and the grocery side.
I think I remember that 5 and dime type store next to Sears. Was it on the left side, after passing the escalators? Um, they tried accusing me of shoplifting one day. They told me not to ever go in that store again! I was mad. I was not stealing. In fact I was counting my money when the lady was calling for help (some other kid was stealing). I told the lady (that came up to help) to search my bags if she wanted to. IDK why the lady who called for help didn't tell her that it was not me!
It scared the crud outta me b/c I was with a friend not too long ago, at Sears, when she was caught stealing, and naturally since I was with her, I had to go back too-and so it brought back nightmares!

Anonymous said...

The Sun valley mall used to be a great place for us to hang out as kids. I was a teen in the 80's and I remember a lot. The stores were so much better than they are today. Now the stores all seem the same. I remember when I was young the stores in the mall. Bottom level Dr X Pet Center, Dynasty House, King Normans Toys, Kay-B Toys, The Green Parrot restaurant, Scotts(men's clothing), Anna Millers Pies(there was one upstairs and also downstairs at the bottom of the escalators by the ice rink)Waldenbooks. I know there were a lot more but that's all I can remember. Nowadays take a stroll through the Sunvalley Mall and you will see punk kids with their pants down to their ankles, no money, usually mugging people, no respect for the elderly. They are usually from Pittsburgh or Antioch and why they don't stay on their ghetto side of the hill is beyond me. Nobody likes you or wants you around. We certainly don't like your music. Its also annoying when parents let their bratty 15 kids run around and scream, not behave and show no manners or respect. Animals? Worse.

Anonymous said...

Cool, the best mall

Anonymous said...

Did JCPenney have a Sephora store inside its store at the Sun Valley mall at one time?

Anonymous said...

Sun valley used to have a large picture mural of the area at one end on a lower level. It was a picture of the area before development. My parents told me it was tomatoe field before the mall. They moved to PH in 1961. It was the place out of town guests like to see. I have lots of memories of the place.

Keith Coppage said...

It's really neat to see that the Mall means so much to a lot of people, including me. Thanks :)

Keith Coppage said...

Things I recall: Lunch at Kress, and the way the mall ended downstairs abruptly in the sporting goods shop but you could climb upstairs on a staircase they had inside the store, Lamp Array, New Masters' Gallery (jeez an art gallery in the mall), the blue glow of the SunValley Cinema, the marquee for same on the CC Blvd side, Lyons inside Macys for a very short time, Big Shot photo posters, Shirtique, a good coffee shop in Sears, the ticket service downstairs at Sears, buying records at Sears and Penny's, a post office inside the mall, early days, a long cafeteria space at the end of the mall downstairs that was probably for mall workers but we ate there, KFC inside the food court, those toucans and other wild birds, the sound of fountains everywhere, the grotesque Buddah fountain in front of Walgreens, going into Walgreens when the rest of the mall was closed, the 3rd floor Macy's windows accessible to customers and you could see the whole mall from upstairs (the windows are still there but you can't get to them), getting gas at Penny's (which was cheaper), the cataloge departments at Pennys and Sears, the cheesy organ sounds around the center of the mall from the music store(s) that were selling them... got me started :)